Friday Freebie: Level1 Fundamentals

As we begin to slowly wrap up another year of teaching, you'll find lots of testing going on in my piano studio with my students. I am often asked the question, "What books do you use?" I think many teachers have their own preferences on what works best with them. I start newbies in Bastien Primer Level. Later as a student progresses, I use Alfred's Piano Lesson Books. Here are a few things one will learn in Level 1 for the piano.

How Music Is Written

Treble and Bass Clef
Bar Line
Double Bar Line (Always used at the end of a piece.


Quarter Note = 1 count
Half Note = 2 counts
Dotted Half = 3 counts
Whole Note = 4 counts


The numbers at the beginning of a piece are called the Time Signature. This tells us how to count the piece.
Upper number tells us to give four counts to a measure.
Lower number tells us that a quarter note gets one count.

Seize the C’s

When Middle C has its stem up, right hand plays it.
When Middle C has its stem down, left hand plays it.

Music is a language and has punctuation signs that divide it into phrases or sentences. These PHRASES are marked with curved lines called slurs.

Introducing Eighth Notes

Two eighth notes equal one count. One eighth note is half as long as a quarter note.


Rests are signs of silence. They tell us how many counts our hands should remain silent.

Quarter Rest = 1 count
Half Rest = 2 counts
Whole Rest = 4 counts
The whole rest means that a certain hand is silent for a whole measure.

The Repeat Sign

Two dots before or after a double bar indicate REPEAT signs:
This means that you play the measures enclosed by repeat signs TWICE.

The Tie

The tie is a curved line placed over or under two notes of the same pitch. You play the first note only and hold it down for the total time value of  both notes.

Natural accents

In playing the piano, certain counts are louder than other counts. These loud counts are called natural accents.

In 4/4 time – always play the first count louder.
In 3/4 time – always play the first count louder.
In 2/4 time – likewise play the first count louder.

A Brief History Of The Piano

The direct predecessors of the piano are the clavichord and the harpsichord. History records their use as early as the Sixteenth century. still earlier, the effort to produce two or more tones simultaneously yielded the dulcimer, but it had no keyboard. Notice the limited manual range and the non-existent pedals of the early instruments. Cristofari (1665) and Bach (1685) were responsible for the major developments in the piano. Today the manufacturers have given us the gloriously complete concert grand.

Importance Of Review

You gain smoothness and ease by reviewing your old pieces and studies. Be sure always to devote at least 10 mins. a day to review work.

Sight Reading Hint

In finding a note, move the eye first, then the hand. Find the note visually then manually. Too many students start moving their hands without knowing where they are going. Keep the hands quiet until the note has been found visually.

The Sharp Sign

Here is the SHARP sign (#). It appears before a note. It tells you to play the first black key to the right of the note instead of the regular white key.

The Sharp Sign In The Signature

Instead of writing out every sharp in the song, most composers would put a sharp sign at the beginning of the piece. This is called the Key Signature. IT tells you to sharp  a specific note throughout the piece.

The Flat Sign

This is the FLAT sign (b). It means to play the first black key to the left of the note.

Common Time

Very often in music you will not find a numerical time signature at the beginning of a piece but will find the large symbol C. This stands for COMMON TIME (4/4 Time).


The Sharp (#), Flat (b), and Natural signs which appear in a piece (other than in the key signature) are called Accidentals. Watch out for them. Natural sign means to restore back to white key.
How To Become A Faster Note Reader

Sight-reading is a skill that can be compared to bowling or golfing. It doesn’t take a great deal of mental effort or knowledge to play these games, but it takes a prodigious amount of practice to be expert. The same analogy holds true for sight-reading. You can’t think or wish yourself into becoming a good reader-you must practice and drill constantly.

Quick note reading demands daily drill. Remember, music isn’t hard to play; it’s hard to READ. You fumble and stumble at the keyboard because you can’t find the notes quickly enough. Keep your drills alive every day. You will soon grow to become a more rapid reader. Plus, the physical element of good vision is a factor in sight-reading.

How To Play In Rhythm

Never count to your playing, but always PLAY TO YOUR COUNTING. In every piece in 3/4 time always play your first count louder: 1 2 3 1 2 3

How To Use The Damper Pedal

The main pedal in piano playing is the DAMPER PEDAL. (the one at the right). It is sometimes (wrongly) called the loud pedal. The pedal at the left is the soft pedal and the middle pedal is the sustaining pedal. Keep the heel on the floor and sole of shoe in pedal contact at all times. Pedaling should be noiseless-no clicking of the shoe or letting the pedal up with a bang.

Musical Terms

Music writing began in Italy. Therefore Italian words are used to tell us how music is played. If each country used its own language it would be very confusing. Suppose Russia described its music in Russian, and Norway defined its music in Norwegian, etc., we would have to know far too many languages. Consequently all countries have adopted Italian terms for their music. You see if we know the Italian terms we will understand how to play music of any country.
Introducing The Staccato Touch

When dots are written above or below notes, you touch the keys as if you were touching a hot flat iron. This is called STACCATO.

The Dotted Quarter Note

A dot after a note is equal to a note next lower in value. Therefore, the dot after a quarter note equals an eighth note. The dotted quarter in 4/4 time is counted as follows: 1 2 and 3 4

The Metronome

The letters M.M. at the beginning of a piece stand for Maelzel’s Metronome. The numbers on the metronome indicate ticks per minute. Thus if the metronome were set at 60, it would be ticking seconds. The metronome is used only for a moment to see what time the composer has in mind. We never depend on it entirely for our rhythm.

Watch out for new expression marks. Crescendo means to grow louder and diminuendo means to grow softer.

Watch out for the octave higher sign. 8…… It means to play eight keys higher.


An interval is the difference between two sounds. Intervals have number-names which equal the amount of letter-names they include.

There's so much more to add here but I'll stop for now. 
Take a look at these FREE sites for theory stuff:

If you are an adult who plays by ear but would like a textbook/workbook for music fundamentals, then I recommend 300pg Piano By Ear Home Study Course

 Best Regards,

"The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you." B.B.King
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Jazz, Rags & Blues

The piano tutorial for this song can be found here. Martha Mier produced a music
book of Jazz, Rags & Blues for the early intermediate to intermediate pianist. There
are 8 original pieces in the book... I chose one of the songs, Beach Buggy Boogie.
It really should be played lively, with a solid beat. It has 4/4 time signature.

Jazz, Rags & Blues, Book 2 (Alfred's Basic Piano Library)
I have been asked to fill in a lot of notes on this song. It's a 3 page song.

Basically, the l.h. is playing low C and G together, then C and A; back and forth.
F and C played together, then F and D. They are quarter notes that get one count each.
There's a bass walk down for a few measures, G and D - F and C - C and G.
And another one... G and D to Gb and Db, F and C to Eb and Bb, then C and G.
For the ending... C and G, C and A, C and G, to G and F... then CEG to low C.

O.k., the right hand runs have triplets and eighth notes. They are fun to play.
Along with the CG and CA bass notes, play these single notes in the r.h.

1. Bb, A, G, E, D#, E, G, A then the chord EGAC (2x)
2. Bb, A, G, E, D#, E, G, A, then EG.

With bass notes, FC and FD, add this run.

1. Eb, D, C, A, G#, A, C, D, then ACDF (2x)

Along with CG to CA, play this riff:
1. Bb, A, G, E, D#, E, G, E, C

With GD/ E, D, A#, B, G, G#
With FC/ A, C, G#, A, F
With CG/ Bb, A, G
With CA/ E, D#
With CG/ E, G
With CA/ E, C

There's a mid-section on page 2 that goes like this:
l.h./ r.h. single notes

CG to CA/ D#, E, G, D#, E, C... D#, E, G, D#, E, C
CG to CA/ D#, E, G, D#, E, G, A, then EBb.
FC to FD/ G#, A, C, G#, A, F, G#, A, C, G#, A, F
CG to CA/ D#, E, G, D#, E, G, D#, E, G, D#, E, C

Here's a cool part of the song with bass walk down:

GD/ G, B, G, B, G, B, G... then GbDb/BbGb
FC/ F, A, F, A, F, A, F... then EbBb/GEb

For the third page and final section of the song, play thirds in r.h.

CG to CA/ BbD, AC, G#B,  GBb
single notes D, D#, E
CD to CA/ BbD, AC, G#B, GBb
single notes G, G#, A

FC to FD/ EbG, DF, C#E, CEb
CG to CA/ C, A, G, E, D#, E, G, E, C


Sincerely hope this breakdown helps some of you who want to play
Martha's Beach Buggy Boogie.

When you get the chance, stop by...
4 Free Video Lessons and Sequence

Warm Regards,

"The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you." B.B.King
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Chord Breakdown: Always by Kirk Franklin

The Rebirth of Kirk Franklin
The Rebirth of Kirk Franklin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Awhile back I posted the chord chart to Always by Kirk Franklin. You can view
 "How To play Always"  here. Since then, I've received lots of requests asking for
me to break the song down some more. So, here goes!

First off, this ballad has lots of arpeggiated, broken chords. Play single l.h. notes!


C2 = C, G, D, E, D G.

F2 = F, C, G, A, G.

When you play the measure, "just like mama told me", play

E/C2 = E, G, D, C, E
D7 = D, F#, C
G/F = GF/C to A note
G13 = BE, then D, C, A

Remember the song has lots of C2 and F2 chords.

When you play the measure, "There's peace when I call out Your name,

Bb = Bb, F, D, F, Bb
F/G = G, A, F, A, B

"So whatever You take me through, I promise You, I'll spend my always w/ you"

Am7 = A/ C, G, C, E
Gm7 = G/ Bb, F, Bb, D
Fmaj9 = F/ C, E, G, C, G
Em7 = E/ D, G, B,
Dm7 = D/ C, F, A
G/F = G/ A, C, F, A, C

If you aren't sure where I am at this point, here's the original chord chart, 
Remember, I'm adding more single notes with this post.

Then there's tons of chords that build before the key change:

Here's the chord = How to play it

Am7 = A/CE
G#/E7 = G#EG#/DB
F#/D = F#/ADA
Fm6 = FDF/CDAb
E/C2 = E/DG
Bbmaj7 = Bb/ADF
Ab/Gb/ = AbAb/DbGbAb

Key Change Modulation to Db

Db2 = Db, Ab, Eb, F, Eb
Gb2 = Gb, Db, Ab, Bb, Ab
F7 = F/EbFA
Bbm7 = Bb/DbF
Abm7 = Ab/CbEb
Gbmaj9 = G/DbF
Fm7 = F/CEbAb
Bbm7 = Bb/DbFAb
Ebm7 = Eb/BbDbGbAb
A/Em7 = A/GBDE
A = A/C#EA

Key Change to D Major

I think the chords are pretty easy to figure out in this part.
There's a transition chord that sets up the key change to Eb,
Bb/ Ab = BbBb/ AbCEb, BbBb/AbCEbF, BbBb/CEbAb

Key of Eb

Check out the original chord chart for this section.


Eb2 = Eb/ Bb, Eb, F, G, F, Bb (single r.h. notes)
Ab2 = Ab/C, Bb, Bb, C
Ab/Fm = Ab/AbCF
Ab/Eb = GBbEb
Ab/Eb = Ab/EbGBb
Ab2(#4) = Eb/BbDbEb
Ab2 = Ab/abBbCEb

It's such a beautiful song and you just might want to purchase the book for your library.
The Rebirth of Kirk Franklin (Songbooks and Folios)

And be sure and stop by this resource and see if it's for you:
Gospel Music Training Center

Best Regards,

"The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you." B.B.King
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Friday Freebie: Interactive Websites

 List of Interactive Websites: games for piano, drums and guitar

Little Amadeus

Live Binders for teachers and musicians who want to organize files and stuff. world of instruments for brain games and fun stuff

Music Ear Trainer for tons of apps fun music lab for kids

SMART Music Teacher classical music fun interaction

These are a few of the fun places I like to visit in my free time.
Hope you find them helpful!

"The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you." B.B.King
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Dick Clark Tribute

Dick Clark, host of American Bandstand
Dick Clark, host of American Bandstand (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You know, I just can't find the words to express how I feel... so close to my heart. How about you?
I LOVED Dick Clark, along with the whole world. I will surely miss him, along with you.
I LOVED American Bandstand with 50s, 60s and 70s music. Then there were New Year's Eve Parties w/ Dick.

Music is my life song. I hope you will reflect for a moment and take the time to share
your thoughts,  remembering Dick Clark, with your favorite songs and memories.

How I LOVE to dance. I fondly remember doing the Twist and the Stroll with all the TV kids on the East Coast.

Dick Clark, an American Icon, so handsome and forever young.

Here's a clip of the kind of music I'm talking about for Video Thursday.

I guess every generation has their favorite icon, hero, etc.

Thinking of Dick Clark and so very thankful for all the wonderful memories.


"The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you." B.B.King
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Book Review: Power Chords

A New School of American Music Workshop: POWER CHORDS (Booklet Only)

This little booklet is power packed an organized by the following chapters:

A. Where Chords Come From
B. Variations on the three Chord Types
      1. Major Chord Variations
      2. Minor Chord Variations
      3. Seventh Chord Variations
C. Voicing
D. Special Cases
     Slash Chords
     Augmented and Diminished Chords
E. Inversions
F. Jazz Voicings

So, in the beginning the three basic chord types are discussed.

Major = 1 3 5 (C E G)
Minor = 1 b3 5 ( C Eb G)
Seventh = 1 3 5 b7 (C E G Bb)

The most common variations on the three chord types:

Cmaj7 = C E G B
C6 = C E G A
Cmaj9 = C E G B D
C6/9 = C E G A D

All chords contain 1 3 5, the basic major chord and five note chords can be
handled by spreading the notes between both hands. Usually the left hand gets
the root (1) with an optional addition of the 5 or the 7. You can eliminate non-
essential notes in the chord (usually 5, perhaps 1).

The most common variations on the minor chord:

Cm7 = C Eb G Bb

Cm9 = C Eb G Bb D

Cm6 = C Eb G A

Cm maj7 = C Eb G B

All the above chords contain 1 b3 5, the basic minor chord.

The latter two examples (Cm6 and Cm maj7) would work best in songs in minor
keys where the chord is tonic. In other words Cm6 works best as a substitution for the Cm chord in the key of C minor. The minor major seventh could be used in the same situation. However, it is very dissonant and should be used with care.

The most common variations on the seventh chord:

C9 = C E G Bb D

Caug7 = C E G# Bb

C7-9 = C E G Bb Db

C7+9 = C E G Bb D#

Csus4 (7) = C F G Bb

C11 = C E G Bb D F

All these chords are possible substitutions for the plain sounding seventh chord, although not every alternative works in all situations. Experiment with this. Note that all the chords in this group contain the flat seven (b). An understanding of these C7 chord types will lead to mastery of the corresponding chords in other keys. Figure them out, write them down, practice them and memorize them.

Exercises on C Am Dm G7

This simple four-chord progression contains major, minor, and seventh chords. It makes a wonderful basis for an exercise with the chord substitutions. Practice using all the substitutions we have learned in this pattern until your hands are familiar with the chords and your ears are familiar with how they sound.

C = C E G

Am = A C E

Dm = D F A

G7 = G B D F

For more information on chords study, visit Chords 101 & 102

"The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you." B.B.King

Friday Freebie: Peter and the Wolf

Photo Credit: delboysafa

 SERGEI PROKOFIEV, composing for piano at age five and writing an opera at nine.

Peter and the Wolf,
written in April of 1936 for a children's theater in Moscow.
"Peter and the Wolf" is a childhood classic. Peter, his animal friends, his grandfather, the wolf and the hunters all have appropriate musical themes that make this piece a delight to hear.

I use this piece with my students to teach them about the many different instruments of the orchestra.

Here's a list of free resources on the internet regarding Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf.

1. Music for this song,
2. History for this song,
3. Lesson plans for teachers,
4. Audio clips for this song,
5. Lesson plans with recordings:
6. Movie trailer,
7. Free templates, games, puppets, clip art and power point presentation:

Clip Art Credit:

Now there's a group called Peter and the Wolf and their song, Better Days.
The music chords are:

[A]          [C#m]
My old man, he sailed away
[D]             [A]
By a boat upon the sea
My mother held her head high
And smiled down on me
She said, "Boy, get wise
Work harder, do something with your nights
Look smarter
I promise you it's better days ahead"


And you, you were my friend
When I had nothing to my name
When all the world turned on me
You still treated me the same

And we've been through hell, you and me
Caught drama
Girl tragedy, oh brother
I promise you it's better days ahead
Talk to me, now.
One of my favorite songs by Peter Cetera, is Glory of Love

C                        G                            C
Tonight it's very clear as we're both lying here
            F             C       G
There's so many things I want to say
C               F
I will always love you
Bb             Eb           Ab
I would never leave you alone
C                        G
Sometimes I just forget say things I might regret
C              F               C   G
It breaks my heart to see you crying
C                F
I don't want to lose you
Bb             Eb        Ab
I could never make it alone

     C       F             C              G7
     I am a man who would fight for your honor
     C            F     Dm7            G
     I'll be the hero you're dreaming of
     Am7          Dm7     C        E
     We'll live forever knowing together
     Am             Dm           G        C
     That we did it all for the glory of love


You keep me standing tall
You help me through it all
I'm always strong when you're beside me
I have always needed you
I could never make it alone


Just like a knight in shining armor
Bb                Eb
>From a long time ago
Just in time I will save the day
Cm              Fm          Bb    C  G
Take you to my castle far away

CHORUS (with different lyrics):

     I am the man who will fight for your honor
     I'll be the hero that you're dreaming of
     We're gonna live forever knowing together
     That we did it all for the glory of love

We'll live forever knowing together
That we did it all for the glory of love

We did it all for love
Another great artist, Peter Townshend!

Let My Love Open the Door, by Pete Townshend (from Empty Glass)

This is mostly C-G-F-G C-G-F-G, all the way through.
C          G       F      G    C            G       F    G
Let people keep repeating that you'll never fall in love
When everybody keeps retreating, you can't seem to get enough 
Let my love open the door, let my love open the door
Let my love open the door, to your heart

When everything feels all over and everybody seems unkind
I'll give you a four leaf clover, take all the worry out of your mind
Let my love open the door, let my love open the door
Let my love open the door, to your heart.

I got the only key to your heart
That can stop you falling apart
Try today your finest way (?)
Come on and give me a chance to say

Let my love open the door
That's all I'm living for
Release yourself from misery
Bb                              G
There's only one thing going to set you free

That's my love
Let my love open the door, let my love open the door
Let my love open the door, let my love open the door

When tragedy befalls you don't let it drag you down
Love can cure your problems, you're so lucky I'm around
Let my love open the door, let my love open the door
Let my love open the door, to your heart.
Then there's Peter, Paul and Mary, one of my favorite groups.
I could do a many blog posts on their songs and the impact they made on my life.
Here are the chords to 500 Miles.
C   Am   C    Am
Dm  F    Dm   G
[ Tab from: ]
       C                  Am           Dm             F
If you miss the train I'm on, you will know that I am gone
        Dm               Em     F       G
You can hear the whistle blow a hundred miles
          C                Am               Dm               F
A hundred miles, a hundred miles, a hundred miles, a hundred miles
        Dm               Em     F       C
You can hear the whistle blow a hundred miles.

Lord I'm one, Lord I'm two, Lord I'm three, Lord I'm four,
Lord I'm five hundred miles from my home.
Five hundred miles, five hundred miles, five hundred miles, five hundred miles,
Lord I'm five hundred miles from my home.

Not a shirt on my back, not a penny to my name,
Lord I can't go a-home this a-way.
This a-way, this a-way, this a-way, this a-way,
Lord I can't go back home this a-way.

       C                  Am           Dm             F
If you miss the train I'm on, you will know that I am gone
        Dm               Em     F       C
You can hear the whistle blow a hundred miles
 Happy Friday!

"The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you." B.B.King
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Video Thursday: Japanese Swing Orchestra

Video of the Week

My cousin sent this video to me and just knew I would love it since I like Jazz
and used to listen to Benny Goodman tunes that my folks liked way back then.
These young kids play swing music with style! They've got rhythm and discipline!

A different song but same title, Sing, Sing, Sing by Chris Tomlin, is a good one!

We will sing, sing, sing
And make music with the heavens
We will sing, sing, sing
Grateful that you hear us
When we shout your praise
A                           E
Lift high the name of Jesus

What's not to love about you
Heaven and earth adore you
Kings and kingdoms bow down
Son of God
You are the One
You are the One
We're living for

You are the love that frees us
You are the light that leads us
Like a fire burning
Son of God
You are the One
You are the One
We're living for 
This is the new song. To see Chris & Daniel teach it go to 
and join. It is a site that is operated by Chris and the guys and they have a 
lot more videos of teaching what they do. 

SING SING SING, Chris Tomlin
The chords to the song:
We will sing, sing, sing
And make music with the heavens
We will sing, sing, sing
Grateful that You hear us
When we shout your praise
 A2  E5
Lift high the name of Jesus

What's not to love about You?
Heaven and earth adore You
Kings and kingdoms bow down
D2   B
Son of God, You are the One
         A2  E5
You are the One we're living for

You are the love that frees us
You are the light that leads us
Like a fire burning
D2   B
Son of God, You are the one
         A2  E5
You are the one we're living for 

Remember, all that 5-chords are is the first 
and fifth of the chord,leave out the third. 

How to Play an A5 Chord on Piano

If you're an intermediate or advanced pianist, you know that a chord is usually composed of at least three notes. The basic chord is made up of the first, third and fifth notes in a scale and can be inverted to create different sounds. However, an A5 chord uses only two notes, as does any basic fifth chord. The A5 chord is played using the first note of the scale, an A note, and the fifth note in a scale, the E note. You can play these in any order with the left or right hand.

So an A2 is A, B, C# and E chord.

What is an A2 chord, and what is an Asus?

Find the answer here.

A very popular worship song that can be used for background music is Sing Hallelujah. 

It's a good one to know for those special quiet times in church, like prayer or offering.

Sing Hallelujah

Verse 1:
 Cm        Gm            Cm    Gm
 Sing hallelujah to the Lord       
 Cm   Bb/D       Eb     Fm       Gsus  G
 Sing hal - le - lu-jah to  the  Lord 

 Cm           Gm        Ab          Eb
 Sing  hal-le-lu-jah,  sing  Hal-le-lu-jah,

 Cm           Gm                Cm
 Sing  Hal-le-lu-jah  to  the  Lord 
© 1974 Linda Stassen / New Song Ministries
Words and Music by Linda Stassen

Sing Hallelujah

Verse 1:
 Am        Em            Am    Em
 Sing hallelujah to the Lord       
 Am               Em       Am  E
 Sing hal - le - lu-jah to  the  Lord 

 Am           Em        F          Am
 Sing  hal-le-lu-jah,  sing  Hal-le-lu-jah,

            Em                   Am Em
 Sing  Hal-le-lu-jah  to  the  Lord
Having a chord vocabulary is so important in music theory
You may want to add to your music listening library and 
learn the number system by hearing the teachings of Jermaine 
Griggs on Chords 101 and 102 

"The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you." B.B.King
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Book Review: Beginning Jazz Keyboard

In my music library, I own Noah Baerman's book,

Complete Jazz Keyboard Method: Beginning Jazz Keyboard
It's The Complete Jazz Keyboard Method with CD for:
  • Beginning
  • Intermediate
  • Mastering
Here's a little blurb from Amazon:

"Anyone with basic keyboard skills (equivalent to Alfred's Basic Piano, Lesson Book 2) can dig right in and begin learning jazz right away. Spanning from the major scale and basic triad theory all the way through 7th chords, pentatonic scales and modulating chord progressions, this book features a full etude or tune demonstrating every new concept introduced. Beginning Jazz keyboard breaks the age-old tradition of dry, intimidating and confusing jazz books, and provides an actual step-by-step and enjoyable method for learning to play in this style. The CD demonstrates examples and offers opportunity to play along."
It's a great resource and what I like about this book is that it takes you to some exotic chords,
instead of the regular major/minor chords. I think you'll like this one and the price is good.
 On my other blog, that is mostly for Jazz songs, I posted a favorite of mine,
Bouncin' With Bill E.  You can find the music chord chart at Bouncin with Bill. But today I
wanted to talk a little bit about shell voicings.

Some chord tones are more important than others. Let's take a look at the 3 most
common 7th chords (major, minor and dominant) from a root of D.

D Maj, which is DF#AC# played together.
D7, the notes in the chord are DF#AC.
Dmin7 chord has the notes, DFAC.

We know the root is important since that is what defines the chord. the 3rd and 7th
are not the same from chord to chord, so we need those to determine the chord quality.
The 5th is another story. The major, minor and dominant 7th chords all have perfect 5ths.
That means three chords are being played.

To play shell voicings, we use the same concept we've been using but leave out the 5th
of each chord; the roots go in the left hand and the right hand takes the 3rds and 7ths.
If the melody note is the 3rd or 7th of a chord, we have three-note chords; if not, we add
the melody note on top and have a four note chord. This is a very sparse, compact way to
voice chords without losing the character of the changes.

Play this I-vi-ii-V-I in G Major.

(I) GMaj7 =  (root) G/F#B (7th and 3th)

(vi) Emin7 = (root) E/DG (7th and 3th)

(ii) Amin7 = (root) A/CG (3th and 7th)

(V) D7 = (root) D/CF# (7th and 3th)

(I) GMaj7 = (root) G/BF# (3th and 7th

These voicings just get easier on the hands. In the above example, the
right hand barely has to move at all. This ease in voice leading is common
with shell voicings whenever the roots are moving down in 5ths (or up in 4ths).
In these cases, the most you'll have to move to get from the 7th of one chord to
the 3rd of the next is a whole step, sometimes only a half step. To get from the
3rd of one chord to the 7th of the next, you often need only to repeat the same note!

GMaj7 = G/F#B (7th and 3th)

Emin7 = (5th) E/DG (7th and 3th)

Amin7 = (4th) A/CG (3th and 7th)

D7 = (5th) D/CF# (7th and 3th)

GMaj7 = G/BF# (3th and 7th)

If you like Jazz, then consider looking into these dvd courses from HearandPlay:

Jazz101  and  Jazz201

Thanks to many of you that have asked about shell voicings. You can learn so much about
Jazz from Willie Myette and James Wurbel. Look them up on YouTube... some great stuff!


"The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you." B.B.King
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Friday Freebies: Piano Apps and More

Photo credit and permission: Color The Egg Puzzle, Susan Paradis

One of my favorite online music teachers for children, who has beginner piano students, is Susan Paradis. Her site is loaded with free songs and lots of music resources. You'll find games, puzzles and Easter Bunny Keys to color (print out) and she recently posted an Easter Bunny Song.

I usually use these books, Bastien Primer Level Lesson and Theory Books and start students in C Position before I move on to thumbs sharing in Middle C Position.

Bastien Piano Basics: Piano Primer Level (Primer Level, WP 200)

Free sheet music download, Take Me Home (Sweet Sunny South) is available at I played the song and it sounds just like At The Cross.

You'll want to check out this new piano app for your iPad. It's called Joy Tunes Piano Dust Buster and is free in the App Store. It includes 23 songs in all. The first few, such as "Mary's Little Lamb" and "Frere Jacques," can be played immediately. As players progress, they unlock access to more advanced pieces, including "Ode to Joy" and "La Bamba."

In the basic version, with an on-screen touch keyboard, you swat at little creatures as they descend by playing the piano key on which they are about to land. In a more advanced version, you smack the critters when they slide along as notes on the music staff, so you get a sense of where A4 or D#5 is in music notation, for example.

For more advanced play, you can use the "Real Piano" mode, in which the app acts as an accompaniment to an actual piano or electric keyboard. The invaders still drop toward the notes or slide along the staff. But you play on the real keyboard, and the app uses the iPad's microphone to recognize whether you have played the right note.

I use this app with my piano students and it's fun... just get past the name. Kind of crazy but this new technology that we have, especially with the iPad3, is sensational. Steve Jobs was so revolutionary and I'm very thankful.

Although this app isn't free, I think it's a great investment of $.99 for every student and teacher to have. You'll love it! It's called Flashnote Derby. Another app for $.99 that I use with my iPad is
Pluto Learns Piano.

Best wishes and much continued success with your piano practice!

"The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you." B.B.King
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How To Play He Is Exalted

Cover of "He Is Exalted"
Cover of He Is Exalted

Back in 1985 when I was playing on worship teams, a favorite song we did 
by Twila Paris called, He Is Exalted, was a favorite. It can be played and 
easily sung in many different keys to fit your voice range. My favorite key on
this one is Ab. It's fun to play on the black keys! Here are the chord charts:

He Is Exalted (Key of Ab)

Ab                                Db/Ab                 Eb/Ab
He is exalted the King is exalted on high, I will praise Him

Ab                                Bbm7  Cm7 Dbsus2   Eb/G   F
He is exalted forever exalted and I  will   praise His name

Bbm7 Ab   Eb/G      Ab        Bm7       Dbsus2 Ab/C
He is the Lord, forever His truth shall reign

Bbm7 Ab   Eb/G        Ab               Db Ab/C
Heaven and earth,  rejoice in His holy name

Bbm7      Db/Ab   Eb/G               Ab
He is exalted the King is exalted on high

Music Chord Breakdown:
Ab = play AbEb/CAb (left hand/right hand)
Db/Ab = Ab/AbDbF 

Eb/Ab = Ab/BbEbG

Bbm7 = Bb/AbDbF

Cm7 = C/BbEbG

Dbsus2 = Db/DbEbAb

Eb/G = G/BbEbBb

F = F/FC

Ab/C = C/CEbAb

Db = Db/AbDbF

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